Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Meaning of Vespers will Blow Your Mind

I don't know about you, but I sometimes tend to rush thru Vespers. I'm a housewife, after all, and from 4pm thru 630 pm I'm going thru this cycle:
worrying that I don't have a recipe in mind yet for dinner
figuring out what I'm going to fix for dinner--searching my recipe file, cookbooks, online sites
running meat thru the defrost cycle in the microwave
fixing dinner
serving/eating dinner
cleaning up after dinner.

If I squeeze vespers in anywhere during this period, the upcoing phase in my dinner cycle will be a mental distraction. If I wait til after dinner, I am still usually "sandwiching" it in just before the next activity of the evening.   If I put it off until 9pm, I feel like I've missed the proper window and ought to just skip ahead to Compline.

Yeah, I know. First world Catholic problems.

But today a friend alerted me to a wonderful article by a young theology student all about Vespers. Now that I've read it, I can't wait until its time to do Vespers, and I know I am going to make time for it, use my print breviary to slow me down, find a quiet spot in the house to pray. And I'll light a candle in my prayer spot.

Briefly, the article traces the history of vespers: it's links to Old Testament sacrificial offerings, to the early Christian agape feast, and as a non-sacramental commemoration of the sacrificial death of Jesus. But my short summary does no justice at all to the actual article so please go and read it.  Make sure to listen to the video/audio clip of the Phos Hilaron, the traditional vespers hymn in the Byzantine rite.

Do this, and I promise your next recitation of vespers will be transformed, as you pray with the awareness that you are not just reciting psalms, but offering a sacrifice.